A sports attorney represents players and coaches and guides them through the legal issues that arise in the sports industry. This type of lawyer often represents professional athletes, amateur athletes, and staff. The cases that they handle include business dealings, contracts, and sports injuries.
Not all sports attorneys work for law firms. Some work for a sports team or recreation center and may have an office at their facility. Others have a solo practice and work for several athletes from the same team or various teams. Often, an attorney may work for a large sports and entertainment firm and handle many different clients.
One of the important tasks that a sports attorney has is to review contracts for professional athletes, coaches, and umpires. He or she has to review contracts from employers and commercial sponsors, and discuss issues such as salary raises and bonuses. Attorneys also have to resolve disagreements regarding compensation in case the player gets hurt and how long a player is under contract. Often, he or she will have to conduct mediation sessions with the player, the team owner and manager.
Another responsibility that a sports lawyer has is representing plaintiffs and defendants in sports injury cases. Clients, especially amateur athletes who are still in high school or college, often get hurt playing sports in schools or recreational sports programs. Even though most schools require athletes and parents to sign waivers, injuries can occur that the parents' insurance may not cover or someone else could be liable for other than the player. A sports injury attorney could have to defend a school against a lawsuit brought on by a student athlete or vice versa. When the injury is difficult to litigate, the attorney will hire a personal injury expert witness to obtain additional evidence and give his opinion on liability.
Often firms that have a sports attorney on staff will require the lawyer to go out and get his own clients. The attorney will have to attend games, parties, and other sports-related events to interact with people and find potential business. Networking is a big part of the job and includes returning calls to clients, calling on sports agents, and checking in with coaches and athletes to discuss updates.
In order to be a successful sports attorney, a person must have graduated from a four-year undergraduate school and law school. It would be helpful if the lawyer has a strong interest in sports, whether from playing or just being a fan. He or she should also have great people skills and be willing to socialize at sports events for clients.